Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, May 31, 2008

Earth! My Likeness!

Earth! my likeness!
Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric there,
I now suspect that is not all;
I now suspect there is something fierce in you, eligible to burst forth;
For an athlete is enamour'd of me--and I of him;
But toward him there is something fierce and terrible in me, eligible to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words--not even in these songs.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts, the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the learned astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

- Walt Whitman, poet, born on this day, 1819,
in West Hills, Long Island

The line from the hymn “Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways” rises to my mind: Earth shall be fair, and all her people one. We humans keep battering the Earth, poisoning Gaia, and yet (lucky as we are!) Dennis and I have seen the hills of the Central Coast of California rolling in painted extravagance with yellow mustard, and the roadsides swaying with the fierce soft yellow poppies. Despite what we do, Gaia continues to “burst forth”. And I sense that, yes, in each of us, the Beautiful One, “fierce and terrible”, is “eligible to burst forth”. Look for that “athelete” within!

We may know all the scientific details, in themselves astonishing, about the Creation, about ourselves. But even more it is crucial for our Being that we look “up in perfect silence at the stars”, both within us and without.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 30, 2008

It is disturbing to discover in oneself these curious revelations
of the validity of the Darwinian theory. If it is true that we have
sprung from the ape, there are occasions when my own spring
appears not to have been very far.

- Cornelia Otis Skinner, actress, author,
born on this day, 1901 in Chicago

Cornelia attended Bryn Mawr, and studying theatre at the Sorbonne. She began her career on the stage in 1921. She appeared in several plays before embarking on a tour of the USA 1926 to 1929 in a one-woman performance of short character sketches she herself wrote. She wrote numerous short humorous pieces for publications like The New Yorker. These pieces were eventually compiled into a series of books, including Nuts in May, Dithers and Jitters, Excuse It Please!, and The Ape In Me, among others. With Emily Kimbrough, she wrote “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay”, an hilarious description of their European tour after college.

Well ….. Yes. Not very far! Most human beings like to think ….. if they are able to grasp the fact that we evolved from “apes”, and many still today shudder at the idea, ….. but not I! ….. that we are far superior to the apes from which we evolved, or even not at all related, good Heavens! This latter is a serious delusion. Talk about being puffed up with pride and hubris! And talk about cutting ourselves off from roots we need to be authentic beings!

I have to say that my own spring seems often not to have been very far! And when I look around the human community, ditto. (Pardon my prejudices.) You would think, would you not, that 5-6 thousand years would have provided enough time to Evolve. But ….. Hell No! Here we are, still acting like territorial beasts, like mini-brained people who had never had any “spiritual “ paths set before us on which to Evolve.

Well: we need to Evolve, people! (I love the bumper sticker, “Oh, Evolve”!!) We’ve had enough time. We’ve had enough wise guidance from some pretty super people. I have often said that Love is an act of the Will. It is. We’ve heard the “Message” from many Teachers. Time to engage our evolved human brain and choose the Enlightened Life.

“God” will not force us to choose. “God” has created us in Her image. She awaits our awakening to who we truly are, who we desire to Be. The power and vision to choose lies within.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 29, 2008


- G. K. Chesterton, English writer,
born on this day, 1874

Well, there were certainly lots of wonderful quotes from Chesterton. It was hard to choose! So, I’ve chosen them all!

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

Gandhi said something of the same thing. And I think it’s true. The Gospel has been eviscerated by people who see what it asks and are terrified. Preachers constantly gut it. (I hope I haven’t; I’ve preached for 40 years about Loving – and that’s the challenge.) Bottom line: Love One Another in the manner of Jesus. Yeah, right!

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

Yep. That’s why Eucharist/Thanksgiving is the heart of Christian worship. Best we pay attention.

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.

All extremists, and “righteous” Christians, and touchy Muslims - take note! (It applies to flag worshippers too.)

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

Intellectualize all you want; The “Faith” will die. It’s about Passion and Giving and Wonder.

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

That’s why the ultimate work of true religion is Know Thyself. It’s the ultimate task of the human spirit.

The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.

Amen! If we played more with each other, it would be a hell of a lot more pleasant!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Argument

I've oft been told by learned friars,

That wishing and the crime are one,
And Heaven punishes desires
As much as if the deed were done.

If wishing damns us, you and I
Are damned to all our heart's content;
Come, then, at least we may enjoy
Some pleasure for our punishment!

- Thomas Moore, Irish Poet, born
on this day, 1779

DTSLJ. This is my version of the popular WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) It means, “Does This Sound Like Jesus?” Unhappily, it is unpronounceable – though perhaps in Welsh???

So, here we go. Jesus is reported to have said that if we think some sin, it is as if we actually committed. So, what do I understand that to mean. What the “learned friars” seem to have taught Thomas? Nope.

We all think amazing things. But the critical thing is, do we act on them! Being human, we are going to fantasize, etc. It’s a given of being human. God, I have often thought of horrible ways to kill those I despise (and that’s another issue of moving towards conversion – a life-long Journey!) If Jesus said it at all, I do not think He meant that thinking sinful things was the same as actual sinning. He was simply trying to warn us that if we nurture thinking unloving things, we are likely to be led to do unloving things. But thinking and doing are different. It’s a version of “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.

Thomas Moore was making the same point, I think, that I’m making. And he was also saying that we human beings are meant to wish that we might have “some pleasure” in our lives. Especially in the gift of love given to us. God wants us to have pleasure! Boo hiss on those who have made God out to be the divine version of Cotton Mather and all those souls look like a desiccated prune!!

“Heaven” loves the desire for joy and pleasure and enjoyment of God’s blessings.

Listen to Thomas Moore!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, May 26, 2008

Get off your butt and join the Marines!

I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country
away from them. There were great numbers of people
who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly
trying to keep it for themselves.

If everything isn't black and white, I say, 'Why the hell not?'

If you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.

Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid.

- John Wayne, American Icon, born on this day, 1907

This is supposed to be an American icon, representing what America is all about???

On Memorial Day, this is what we want America to be remembered for?

I prefer Jesus.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stone Villages

The stone-built villages of England.

A cathedral bottled in a pub window.
Cows dispersed across fields. Monuments to kings.

A man in a moth-eaten suit
sees a train off, heading, like everything here, for the sea,
smiles at his daughter, leaving for the East.
A whistle blows.

And the endless sky over the tiles
grows bluer as swelling birdsong fills.
And the clearer the song is heard,
the smaller the bird.

Joseph Brodsky, poet, Nobel Laureate 1987,
Poet Laureate 0f the USA 1991-2, in Russia.

Well, I’m not sure about the “clearer the song ….. smaller the bird.” My birding mentor and oldest friend Martin will tell me!! Crows are very loud - but then, is it a “song”??

I’ve sat in pubs and seen English cathedrals looming in the distance. Brodsky would notice that. I think I first saw York Minster that way, while visiting my great-aunt Cissie. And the man in the moth-eaten suit – that’s certainly a poet’s moment. I can remember visiting a friend on Vinal Haven Island in Maine, leaving on the ferry as he stood waving me off, and feeling the feeling Brodsky captures when any of us are waving off someone we love. That sense of someone going on to new things as we are left. Bittersweet.

I’ve seen clear blue “endless skies over the tiles” in many wonderful places. Makes the soul lift! Especially fine when the tiles are Tuscan red or Moroccan yellow or Greek blue!

A former parishioner wrote yesterday that on her 59th birthday she was putzing around in her garden and enjoying God’s Creation.

It’s Saturday. Forget “work”. Go putz. Feel the joy and the longing.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 23, 2008

A Lake And A Fairy Boat

A lake and a fairy boat

To sail in the moonlight clear, -
And merrily we would float
From the dragons that watch us here!
Thy gown should be snow-white silk
And strings of oriental pearls,
Like gossamers dipped in milk,
Should twine with thy raven curls!
Red rubies should deck thy hands,
And diamonds should be thy dower -
But fairies have broke their wands,
And wishing has lost its power!

- Thomas Hood, English poet,
born on this day, 1799

OK, ok. Of course I chose this poem so I could ride one of my hobbyhorses. Can you imagine the utter dullness, the utter boringness, of those religious people who rail against Harry Potter and other things as being “of the devil” because they speak of wizards and magic. Please, give me a break. And it would be funny, if I had not heard of a real-life carry-on about witches in Kenya or somewhere, on NPR today, being killed. Have I somehow fallen through a time-warp, or been asleep under a Rip Van Winkle tree? Has the World regressed while I have been in a magic sleep?? (Alas, I’ve been awake and watched it happening.)

“Fairies have broke their wands, and wishing has lost it’s power”. Mores the damn pity! A searing, dehumanizing spirit has taken over the lands, diminishing the human mind and spirit and imagination to the level of a kind of shocking lobotomizing of humanity. Creating a kind of World like “Animal Farm”. Ugh.

I believe in dragons, in beautiful pearl-draped fairies, in wizards and witches and warlocks, in magic wands. Pay attention - without them, we become mere shells of persons. And without the imagination, the Bible is nothing but a shocking tale of human pettiness and violence.

If you are offered a ride on a lake in a “fairy boat “to sail in the moonlight clear", go for it! Better yet, build them yourselves! Live the metaphor!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 22, 2008

If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet
destroy every closet door.

The fact is that more people have been slaughtered
in the name of religion than for any other single reason.
That, THAT my friends, is true perversion.

- Harvey Milk, San Francisco Supervisor, Gay man,
born on this day, 1930 (Assassinated 1978)

Speaking of perversion! Harvey Milk was assassinated by a fellow Supervisor who had been dismissed. The assassin also killed the mayor. He was later given a very light sentence. It was called the “Twinkie Defense” - he claimed that he was “high” on sugar having eaten Twinkies. So much for American Justice and for the claim that all are equal and justice is for all. Not when it comes to Gayfolk in this country!

And let’s be clear: at bottom of the hatred and prejudice and discrimination against Gayfolk in America is Religion, and primarily Christianity. In my opinion, it is a betrayal of the God of Truth and Love we know in Jesus Christ.

Well, we know that good can come from evil and hate. May the bullet that killed Harvey be indeed a bullet that destroys every closet door. May Gay men and women rise up and emerge from the dark of hiding and prejudice and hate. May all just and loving people help them. And believe me: Jesus would be with them/us in the closet and leading everyone out, willing to accept persecution and death for these outcasts of American society.

Jesus. What’s not to love!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice,
golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and
today I do not think I would add one word.

- Sir Laurence Olivier, English actor, born on this day, 1907

At St. Benedict’s, Los Osos, where Dennis and I now worship, we attend Vespers each Tuesday afternoon. A quiet, informal half-hour to meditate, reflect together on Scripture (silently or aloud), pray, and share. I love it. Wish I’d thought of it when I was a parish priest.

Tonight, with Priest Faye officiating, we talked among other things about how we are taught, from our very youth, not to think about the realities of human life. Of how in Scripture, God’s “scribes” have projected onto God all sorts of nonsense, the dreams and hopes and vindictiveness and fears of the humanity community. So, I like Olivier’s words.

Life is as he says. Yet we teach our children to think otherwise. We teach them to avoid the realities of death and suffering. Often we blame sad realities on God, so children plaintively ask, “Why did God let my dog die?” And at that moment, we have created a little one who will have a very difficult time embracing the beauty of the God of Compassion. Jesus warned us, “Woe to those who lead a little one of mine astray!” By the way we have portrayed God over 3000 years, we are responsible for the many who have rejected the false image we have created.

God is ONLY good. Desires only our Good. The negative, wrathful, judgmental, punishing aspects of God as portrayed in the Bible are but the projections of weak human beings who are not able or willing to be responsible for the lives we have been given.

God is with us in the strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. And I say with Olivier, “I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word."


Monday, May 19, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored
by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written
in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees
with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.

- The Buddha, on this celebration of His birthday

I leave it at that. Little more to say. The “BL” (Bottom Line) is: WE ARE RESPONSIBLE! For ourself. For the good of the human community. Waiting around for some deity to “make it all better” is nonsense. We share in Divinity. It is up to us to claim our destiny and our gifts and our calling to be co-creators with God and Get On With It!!

Get your mind going! Your heart! Believe in yourself. Live the full Life you were called to by your creation.

The Gods/esses loath those who demean the glory of their own humanity.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, May 19, 2008

Love other human beings as you would love yourself.

- Who said this? (Make your guess before you get to the bottom.)

One of the problems about being human, being “political” (i.e., “of the city”), about being protective of your own culture, is that we prejudge people. Christians are told not to do that. We are taught to understand that all human beings are God’s creation, that all seek love and peace and to be respected, to have our hopes and dreams appreciated. But so much gets in the way. We look at people who stand up for their rights, who in desperation take “drastic” steps to resist oppression, be free, take action against abuse, and if their politics don’t jibe with ours, we label “them” terrorists. You know, Jesus was in that category in many ways, wasn’t He? Didn’t kill anyone, true, instead just took His stand for the God He knew and in Whose way of Love he believed. And was hated for it by the political religious folk of His day, and he was killed.

America is, in my view, like that these days. We have our own view – at least the present political administration does, along with those who think as they do - and we justify all kinds of behaviour in the name of God to uphold the “right”. So, killing Che Guevara (as the CIA did) and supporting horrible, vicious, murderous dictators, and bombing whole populations under false pretenses in support of “our way of life” is justified. In God’s name , no less.

Our leaders claim, many of them, to be Christians. Do you actually think that Jesus would be in league with any of them?

Love is Love. It comes first. Boy, here I am, age 62 almost, and I am beginning to realize that I have a lot of the same judgmental prejudices. That I work out of those prejudices rather than out of the nature of the person and teaching of Jesus. Of God. I have a lot to learn in order to live out the core nature of my humanity.

Know who said the quote? Born on this day, 1890.

Ho Chi Minh.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, May 17, 2008

A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep,
and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless,
to resist.

- Stewart Alsop, American journalist, born on this day, 1914

I called a former parishioner today. Her husband died, in his 80’s. He’d been in a home for a few years. Recently, and rapidly, his Alzheimer’s had accelerated, he had a heart attack, and he got pneumonia. He was moved to ICU, then to a new facility, because his wife had an intuitive sense that the former place wasn’t “right”. His quality of life was very very poor. He was put into palliative care - and he died peacefully a couple of weeks later.

I admire people like Ken’s wife. And Ken. It’s about quality, not “quantity”. And any person of Faith, or whatever religion, should know that. We need to “walk the walk” as people of “faith”. Fear has to be rejected, as Jesus “commanded” us - “Fear Not!”. If we cling to quantity of years, we can be absolutely sure that we will hesitate to Live Fully in this earthly life. We become walking corpses – beautified by facelifts, plastic surgery, and cosmetics – and avoiding all the risk and daring that make Life what it can be. And all the Pleasure, which God created and in which God delights.

Culturally, in the World, we are at this point, though we are arriving at it at different stages depending on where we live. So it will be awhile, alas. Certain theories, certain religions, certain tribalisms, certain small-mindednesses, certain prejudices, certain ignorances, certain bloody-mindednesses, certain fears must simply vanish. How long will it take before we all see that our rampant myopia is just killing us all, diminishing our individual and corporate humanity???

We are at a time in History where many things must die. It is wrong, and useless, to resist. (Pardon my sounding like the Borg!)

As Jesus said, “She who gives up her Life will find it.”

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 16, 2008

I want a language that speaks the truth.

- Studs Terkel, DJ, author, who is 96 today
(born 1912)

That’s what I want too. A Language that speaks the truth. This is why I am adamantly opposed to what we are calling Literalism. In my opinion, our political language has become complete obscurantism and what is called “spin”. No question is ever answered directly by any politician, and the answers are usually misleading if not downright lies. Not only is there no actual truth imparted, there is no balanced complexity, which is critical to full understanding.

Our religious “language”, including interpretation of Scripture, has become useless the more it seeks to protect against the inherent ambiguity of Life. People want “clarity”, but confuse that with “the literal truth”. There is no such thing as “the literal truth”. Take the statement, “Jesus was raised from the dead”. Then see how many books have been written as to what that means, including just what the resurrection body of Jesus was “like”, and what ours will be like. Enough to fill the library at Ephesus. Or, as I was asked on the weekend: “Will we meet all those we love in Heaven?” Answer: we don’t really know, and the “answer” is extremely complex. But most people don’t want to live with that. I’m comfortable with it, because the answer is grounded in Divine Compassion. The details are up to me, and I like the various icon(s) I’ve created over the years! Biblical views of Heaven are no more “true” than yours or mine.

To my thinking, the more levels of imagination, dreaming, poetry, and interpretation brought to language, written and spoken, the more beautiful the truth revealed. The Bible, unlike modern political language, is based in Truth. We need to learn how to understand and speak the language properly.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 1`5, 2008

Is it not worthy of tears that, when the number of worlds
is infinite, we have not yet become lords of a single one?

- Alexander the Great, born on this day, 356 BCE

Plutarch records, in his “On the Tranquility of the Mind”, that Alexander wept when he was told that there were an infinite number of worlds. And said the above quoted words.

I’m into metaphors this week. Perhaps I am doing him a disservice, but I suspect that Alexander was being rather literal in his response. It is easy to be certain that Alexander simply meant that he had yet to conquer the Earth he knew. But ….. maybe not! He was, after all, an intelligent man.

So folks, here’s the skinny. There is indeed an “infinity of worlds”. An infinity of what it means to be a human being. But we know none, or at least most of us don’t, beyond the “first dimension” - how to begin. We can’t get beyond our un-lovingness, beyond our failures, beyond our guilt. We hear the words of the Gospel, but we don’t believe. We really don’t believe that we are “saved”. What does that mean? That we are no longer slaves to anything, because of Jesus’ message and His Life. We need never be slaves to the power of sin and death ….. but we don’t embrace that truth completely and live it out.

Including our sexuality, as a fellow worshipper said at Vespers the other night. We are mostly dualists. We separate “flesh” and “spirit”. We allow ourselves to be enslaved by thinking that denies that God made us sexual, to enjoy sex, to revel in the pleasure, and to use it to enhance love.

My advice: Believe in Repentance and Forgiveness. Be clear about the truth of being human. Be fully human! Hold to the glory of being true to Self, and to God’s wanton gift of freedom.

Be honest. Admit failure. But for God’s sake, storm the gates of Life! The chains are broken.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All I wanted was just what everybody else wants,
you know, to be loved.

- Rita Hayworth, actress, who died on this day
of the complications of Alzheimer’s, 1987

Ain’t it the truth. (As some actor used to say, repetitively. Who was that?? Was it the Cowardly Lion??) If I had to say what was the one thing that lies at the base of all human desire, it is what Rita has said.

I’ve just “retired” from 40 years in full-time ministry. All that time, I think I had a very healthy criterion for judging the “success” of that ministry. I said, to myself, that if I had helped one person to see a glorious, loving, compassionate, non-judgmental God Who was with us every step of the way, incarnated within our own glorious human being, then I had “succeeded”. And I know that I have. My correspondence over 40 years proves it.

The other thing I have said through over 40 years of ministry is, “What is Love?” Jesus called us to “Love one another as I have loved you”. Learning how to love is the core truth of becoming human. We may be able to learn it other ways, but we can certainly learn it authentically from Jesus. So we have to “know” Him, understand how He loved, and seek with every fibre of our being to emulate Him.

Yes, we want to be loved. But St. Francis reminds us, “It is better to love than to be loved”. True. But unless we know that we are loved, loving can be difficult.

I know, by some grace, that I am loved. At the core, by God. And it has been confirmed, I am glad to say, in my life. So, I never falter. I may fail, may blow it, but that has never pushed me over into despair; the bottom line is, God loves me. It is out of that absolute truth (the only one I recognize) that I judge myself.

You are loved by the Heart of All Being. Believe it. Live by it.

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.

- Deng Ming-Dao (Taoist)

Deal with It – whatever “it” may be. That’s the point here.

I wonder if this is what people on the Christian path meant originally by “It’s God’s will”?? Now it seems to mean, “God has afflicted you”. But this is utter stupidity. Why would one be interested in a God who sits around deciding who has hangnails and who doesn’t?? I think it originally meant simply, This is what Life has brought; deal with it in an appropriate way. Do what is sensible in the situation. God provides the strength, the vision, the peace at the heart. As Deng says about “following the Tao”, One should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best. As long as one's deeds are in accord with the time and one leaves no sloppy traces, then the action is correct. In other words, if there is a drought, don’t plant a water-hungry garden; a cactus will do. (Yes, this is a metaphor.)

I think we have been taught to work against the givens of Life. Here’s something to think about: - if there is something wrong with us, we have been taught to pray to God to take it away, make it better. Most of the time, of course, God does not do either, which is why when it does happen, we shout “miracle”. Which is why I have long rejected God as the Fixer. The Cross seems to say, “I’m with you in this; we’ll find the way together”. This is more sound thinking.

The prostate cancer I have been diagnosed with I am taking as a reminder to deal sensibly with the issues of getting older, of embracing mortality, of developing a “lightness of being”. No point in wasting energy complaining or in frustration.

Live as fully as possible, and be with those who help.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 10, 2008

Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house.
They told me it was a bank and that the white men place
their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by
they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have
no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets,
we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by
they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good.
Our way of giving is our bank.

- Chief Maquinna of the Nuu-chah-nulth

The Christian life is all about Eucharist - Taking, Blessing, Breaking, Giving. It can’t be about “making money”. Fostering Life isn’t about burying your talent in the earth and getting back nothing. It’s about putting it – oneself - out there in some form or other, and having it blossom and eventually come back to you as a surfeit of abundance. The more this happens, the more we give away the “money and the blankets” - metaphors for caring and loving and generosity and gratitude - the more not only we but the whole Creation are blessed, and the more the World is transformed into God’s Community.

Jesus gave Himself in love. It is a pattern for who we are as human beings, at our best. We are supposed to be like Johnny Appleseed, casting the seed out from the heart in joy, with singing and without fear. It will grow, and it will eventually be returned “with interest” and it will make our “hearts feel good”.

From the mustard seed of each of us, a mighty bush giving shelter to all will grow.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 8, 2008

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories
for which we have no use.

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or
like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction.
No, read in order to live.

Everything which one invents is true, be sure of it.

There is no truth. There is only perception.

- Gustave Flaubert, French author, who died on this
day, 1880

God is our invention. I have “invented” God for myself. God is loving, affirming, revealing of new truths, granting of power to Live.. Based on my experience, my heart, my mind, my intelligence, I started with what I was shown. I rejected what I knew to be others’ inventions. I “came up” with the God I absolutely knew had to be the true God. And it has proven true. Flaubert is correct: I have invented a God that is True – and I am sure of it.

I have no use for contrary facts and theories which contradict that God is the myth of Love. Scripture is full of the words of those who have perverted the actual facts and theories. I know Who God Is meant to Be.

I do not read the Bible to be amused, or to be instructed in things that belittle Life. I am only interested in knowing what Life really is, and that “God” draws us to that Life.

And Flaubert is correct: everyone thinks they “have” the truth. But, no one has. It is all perception, shaped by prejudice, hope, fear, longing, despair, passion for truth. Like-minded people gather together to live a perception. This is normal, laudable.

Do not doubt, dear friends, that God rests in you and is guiding you. Trust your hopes for Peace, Happiness, Justice, Joy, Oneness. Believe and act. It will change your life and the World as well.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to Argue in Peace

* Sit Down.
* Hear out the other person without interrupting.
* Begin and end your remarks by thinking,
"I'd rather be happy than right".
* If at all possible, state each opinion as a fear.
* Close your eyes and remember your debt of gratitude to each other.
* Think of the gifts you wish to give to the relationship,
then open your eyes and share them.
* Do not reconsider.

It isn’t about control. It isn’t about being right. It isn’t about winning.

You decide what it’s really about! And what criterion you are using to decide.


Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I was not aware that we had quarreled.

- Henry David Thoreau, philosopher, who
died on this day of tuberculosis, age 44,
in 1862

As Thoreau was dying, his aunt is reported to have asked him if he was at peace with God. The above quote was his answer. Do you love it?!

(The picture shows how things have changed, I think. I would say that Thoreau, less than 44, looks 60. Food and meds and technology.)

I had the privilege to serve as Interim for about 16 months at St. Anne’s, Lincoln MA. I was about 40. Walden Pond was just up the road. Being the Romantic that I am, I used to go and sit there now and then, on fair days, on my day off, with some wine and a picnic and a folding chair. Only the foundation of Thoreau’s little house remains. It cost him $28! There I read “Walden; or, Life in the Woods”, and “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”, and “Civil Disobedience”. I remember it as an idyllic time.

I have never had occasion to quarrel with God. My path in Life has been a relentless determination on the part of some Mystery to show me that I would never have any reason to be on the outs with God. Every step of the way, when I was tempted to think that God would have a quarrel with me, would disapprove of me, would not accept me, something or someone or some ministry would come along and make it clear that there was no reason not to be at peace with God. “Faith in God” is the conviction that Life desires only Good for each of us. That faith brings only the “peace that passes all understanding”.

If anyone ever asks you if you are at peace with God, I’m sure that Thoreau would be more than happy for you to borrow his response! And if you’re not sure, you’re not on the right path.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, May 5, 2008

A gourmet who thinks of calories
is like a tart who looks at her watch.

- James Beard, cook, born on this day,
1903, in Portland OR

A dear friend of mine told me a story about a “spiritual” teacher who was asked to give an example of the divinity of Jesus. She said, “Jesus never made a resurrection appearance to Herod; who but God could have resisted a temptation like that!”

Could I possibly have resisted a pun like Beard’s????

OK, ok, I’ll grant you - we eat far too many calories, most of us, literally speaking. But this isn’t about physical food. It’s about the overwhelming blessings of God, of Life, of this spectacular Earth, of the human community.

To be alive is about a stunning surfeit of “calories”. There is so much! So much Wonder. Beauty. Tenderness. Thoughtfulness. Gentleness. Caring. Surprise. Awe.

Why choose their opposites?? Why permit perverseness to spoil what God intended in Her Creation?

No good tart (hee, hee!) would worry about lingering in pleasure. No cook would worry about calories, and no eater of fine things would worry about calories (though might do about excessive quantities).

Life offers abundance beyond calculation for those profligate in Love.



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, May 3, 2008

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be
happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself
by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames
of achievement.

- Golda Meir, 4th Prime Minister of Israel, born on this day,
in Russia, 1898

I have often wondered about the idea in Christian thought which says that Jesus was created in every way as we are ….. yet without sin. By which most people understand, “perfect”. I understand it from a mythological perspective. God, by definition, has to be perfect, and therefore God’s Son has to be perfect. Which translates into, “without sin”, i.e., perfect in love. So now Christians are set up for failure. We are supposed to be as Christ, Jesus is our ultimate role model. But we can never be “without sin”. Well, in my mind, “perfect” and “sinless” aren’t synonymous.

I think that the Gospel “record” was carefully tidied up to make the earthly reality fit the myth. Like Golda. The reality was a feisty, tough, plain-speaking, hard-dealing politician. But most of us remember the myth: a dowdy plump smiling Jewish grandmother. I wonder what Jesus was really like. I like having the “throwing the moneychangers out of the Temple with a whip” bit. It’s a sign of the hidden truth.

If I am to “create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life”, I don’t want to strive for a false perfection. I want to strive for a “perfection” that includes making mistakes and repenting of them. Yahweh is portrayed as doing that, and I suspect that Jesus did too. Repentance – turning away from unlove to love – is a “tiny, inner spark” that can be fanned into “flames of achievement”.

Trust yourself. We aren’t sinless. Yet the divine and the human live together at the Heart, waiting to burst into flame.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, May 02, 2008

What is called worship or meditation
is often nothing but an evasion of personal
responsibility for self-awakening.

- Vernon Howard

Boy, have I seen this in spades over four decades! And I confess that I have indulged in it myself at times in my life. Worship as ….. Escape. Many of us often want “spiritual practice”, public or private, to lull us and hold us in a place where a false sense of well-being prevails. And God help any worship leader who attempts to change anything! This does not just pertain to “religion”; the same pattern often controls social structures as well.

I am reading Geraldine Brooks fine novel “People of the Book”. At one point, the illustrator of a beautiful haggadah faints while writing out the letters of a text on the page - because of the power the letters have to transform him. Ritual, in any manner, should I think be essentially of this nature. It is meant to change us, powerfully to challenge us. It’s ok to leave worship or meditation with a sense that Life is exquisite and wild and beautiful. But more, we should emerge desperate to grow, learn more, be yanked from our stuck-ness and propelled towards a fuller Being-ness.

We don’t worship or pray in order to shift responsibility onto God for who we are or are becoming as a person. Self-awakening is our responsibility. Our worship should never pander to our fear of transformation.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Deep songs don't come from the surface;
they come from the deep down. The poetry
and the songs that you are supposed to write,
I believe are in your heart.

- Judy Collins, songwriter, poet, lovely
human being, born on this day, 1939

The older I get, the more I understand that we create What Is. I think that doing this is essential to becoming who we are. The older I get, the more I sense that there is no truth “out there” that gets imposed on us and makes us a person. It has to come from “the deep down”. The more I experience, meditate on it (wisdom doesn’t come automatically with age!), I understand that the song we are supposed to write is there, deep down. It is unique. To sing the song, we have to find the Deep Down. Ourself, the “god/ess (both) within”.

There is no cookie cutter for a person. We seem to find this hard to deal with, and with what it implies. It’s easier to organize people into stereotypes and assign defined boxes to live in – and stay in! Easier to try and “control” others. I must say it doesn’t seem to work very well, certainly not if we are looking for “security”, peace, etc.

I think it is our Life work to find our song and sing it to the World. It’s hard work, given the fear of “the other” we are plagued by. It is equally essential to our Becoming to listen for the Song in each other. To help each other to sing. There, I think, lies the Life we all desire.


p.s. Today in the Christian calendar is Ascension Day. Like Christ, each of us must regularly leave temporary places and return to the Heart of Being.